“We need to call attention to social workers and the jobs that social workers do, and then make sure we are lifting social workers up,” says NASW CEO Angelo McClain. “What social workers do is so broad.… You will find social workers in libraries, in businesses, in schools, in mental health clinics, in hospitals, in child welfare, in juvenile justice, in hospice care. The social work skill is used in so many different places.”
“We help people find the strength in themselves to live the kind of life they want to live,” he said. “Oftentimes, we hold a mirror up to people to see the strengths that they have. We also work at a policy level, because some of these issues take policy changes (to make an impact).”
McClain shared these comments in a radio interview with KFRM-AM in Topeka, Kan. It was one of several interviews he participated in to promote Social Work Month in March 2022. Along with NASW Vice President Anthony Estreet, McClain participated in radio tours that reached hundreds of thousands of potential listeners in Detroit; Myrtle Beach, S.C.; and Santa Barbara, Santa Maria and San Luis Obispo in California.
McClain also submitted a Social Work Month editorial on the increased need for social workers to help end the nation’s mental health crisis. It was picked by the Miami Herald, The Denver Post and Kaiser Health News. The articles reached about 8 million potential readers.
NASW President Mildred “Mit” Joyner also promoted the profession in March. She appeared on a Channel 13 WMAZ-TV segment and in an article about the vital role of social workers in schools. The segment and article reached a potential 500,000 readers and viewers.
The 2022 Social Work Month theme was “The Time is Right for Social Work.” Each year, NASW promotes awareness and the value of social work by providing resources, hosting activities, and helping support events. The official website is socialworkmonth.org.
Growth in Popularity
NASW Communications Director Greg Wright said Social Work Month continued to gain popularity in 2022, with more people visiting NASW websites that were part of the campaign.
There were more than 117,000 unique visitors to Social Work Month web pages this year, compared with 112,000 the previous year. NASW’s Social Work Month posts on Facebook reached more than 285,000 people alone. During March, the association’s social media reach increased dramatically as it shared thousands of pieces of Social Work Month-related content generated by NASW, its chapters, followers, supporters and partners. Total followers to NASW national social media sites increased by more than 4,000 people during March.
Also, more than 750 articles, columns, letters to the editor and other Social Work Month mentions appeared in the press during the month, reaching well over 300 million potential readers, according to the Meltwater news monitoring service.
NASW promoted congratulatory videos messages from celebrities. Pictured from left: actor and singer Jesse McCartney; actor and comedian Alec Mapa; actress Kate Flannery; and singer and actress Tionne "T-Boz’" Watkins
Congratulatory videos messages from celebrities were broadcast as well. They included actress Kate Flannery ("The Office"); actor and comedian Alec Mapa; singer and actress Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins; and singer and actor Jesse McCartney. More than 37,500 people watched the videos on NASW national office channels alone. Chapters also shared them. They can be viewed at socialworkmonth.org.
New this year, NASW launched an “Ask a Social Worker” column on its Help Starts Here consumer website (helpstartshere.org), which garnered more than 29,500 unique visitors in the first four months of the year, double the same period in 2021. Wright said NASW plans to pitch the column to newspapers this year. An interactive online quiz also was started this year to educate the public about the social work profession. More than 5,600 people took the quiz.
Student Advocacy Day
Social work students from across the country participated in the annual Congressional Research Institute for Social Work and Policy (CRISP) Student Advocacy Day on March 10, 2022. The virtual event included sessions with former and current Capitol Hill staffers as well as experts discussing important social work issues like voting, legislative advocacy, immigration and more.
Keynote speaker Shannon R. Lane, PhD, LMSW, associate professor at Wurzweiler School of Social Work, Yeshiva University, discussed the need for social workers to be involved in the policymaking process.
“The core of democracy includes participation in which all voices are heard,” Lane said. She added that social workers are well suited to be involved in the political process because, “we know what is working.”
Lane noted political social work strategies include:
- Helping clients understand if they are eligible to vote.
- Advocating for changes to make voting laws more accessible.
- Working for elected officials and helping them write new laws.
- Running for office and getting laws changed.
Social Work Month events also included a Social Work Leadership Roundtable Facebook Live event on March 25. It featured social work leaders who discussed why the theme, “The Time is Right for Social Work” is so relevant. The broadcast reached 2,400 people.